One of the first things that children learn is to label the people (especially adults) in their lives.
Mum and Dad.
Aunt and Uncle.
And even as our world broadens and we meet more people, some related to us and some not, these four terms of address remain our most frequently used ones.
But do we ever learn what these terms really mean?
Do we ever teach our children more than simply which biological relative is entitled to which label?
Do we ever teach our children about the kind of roles and responsibilities each label entails?
Given the rising number of critics of occasions, such as “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day”, I would say that the answer to the above is a firm “no”.
It is said that such occasions discriminate against children from unconventional families, as well as those who have already experienced significant loss in their young lives.
However, this does not have to be the case.
All we have to do is think a little beyond the definitions of those four endearing terms that we have uttered on more occasions than we can count.
A mother is not only the person who gave birth to you, but any person who has dedicated themselves to your well-being, both physical and psychological, from your earliest days.
A father is not only your mother’s partner, but any person who has protected you and your mother from the many evils of this world, from assault to poverty.
An aunt or an uncle is not only the sibling of a parent, but a friendly presence in both your life and that of your parents, who has shared in both the joys and sorrows of (respectively) growing up and raising a child.
The purpose of occasions, such as “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” is not to assess whether our biological relations have lived up to our expectations. Nor is the purpose of such occasions to support marketing campaigns.
Instead, such occasions are an invitation to pause our busy schedules in order to openly appreciate the people, whether biologically related or not, who have helped shape us into the person we are today by showering us with love throughout the many different seasons of life.